Minimum Wage

Minimum wage is the lowest wage rate an employer can pay an employee. Most employees are eligible for minimum wage, whether they are full-time, part-time, casual employees, or are paid an hourly rate, commission, piece rate, flat rate or salary. Some employees have jobs that are exempt from the minimum wage provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). (See the Special Rule Tool for information on these job categories.)

Minimum Wage Rates

Minimum Wage Rate March 31, 2009 March 31, 2010 
Current wage rate
General Minimum Wage $9.50
per hour
per hour
Student Minimum Wage
per hour
per hour
Liquor Servers Minimum Wage $8.25
per hour
per hour
Hunting and Fishing Guides Minimum Wage



Rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day

Rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive

Homeworkers Wage 
(110 per cent of the general minimum wage)
per hour
per hour

General minimum wage - This rate applies to most employees.

Student wage - This rate applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school break or summer holidays.

Liquor servers wage - This hourly rate applies to employees who serve liquor directly to customers or guests in licensed premises as a regular part of their work. "Licensed premises" are businesses for which a license or permit has been issued under the Liquor Licence Act.

Hunting and fishing guides wage - The minimum wage for hunting and fishing guides is based on blocks of time instead of by the hour. They get a minimum amount for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and a different amount for working five hours or more in a day--whether or not the hours are consecutive.

Homeworkers wage - Homeworkers are employees who do paid work in their own homes. For example, they may sew clothes for a clothing manufacturer, answer telephone calls for a call centre, or write software for a high-tech company. Note that students of any age (including students under the age of 18 years) who are employed as homeworkers must be paid the homeworker's minimum wage.

The minimum wage rates in each of the above categories and scheduled annual increases are set out on the next page:

Example for calculating general minimum wage

One week in April of 2010, Julia works 37.5 hours. She is paid on a weekly basis.  The minimum wage applicable to Julia is $10.25 per hour.  Since compliance with the minimum wage requirements is based on pay periods, Julia must earn at least$384.38 (37.5 hours × $10.25 per hour = $384.38) in this work week (prior to deductions). (Note that eating periods are not included when counting how many hours an employee works in a week).

Minimum Wage Calculation for Employees Who Earn Commission

If an employee's pay is based completely or partly on commission, it must amount to at least the minimum wage for each hour the employee has worked.

A typical case:

Luba works on commission and has a weekly pay period.  One week in April 2010, she earned $150 in commission and worked 25 hours.  The minimum wage applicable to Luba is $10.25 an hour.  The minimum wage ($10.25) multiplied by the number of hours worked in the pay period (25) is $256.25.  Luba is owed the difference between her commission pay ($150) and the required minimum wage ($256.25).  Luba’s employer owes her $106.25.

Note: where overtime hours are worked, the calculation is more complicated.

Industry-specific and job-specific exemptions and special rules may apply to some salespeople who earn commission. Please see the Special Rule Tool for details.

How Provision of Room and Board Affects Minimum Wage

For the purposes of ensuring that the applicable minimum wage has been paid to an employee, an employer can take into account the provision of room and board (meals). Room and board will only be deemed to have been paid as wages if the employee has received the meals and occupied the room.

What employers can deduct for room and board

The amounts that an employer is deemed to have paid to the employee as wages for room or board or both is set out below:

  • Room (weekly)
    • private $31.70
    • non-private $15.85
    • non-private (domestic workers only) $0.00
  • Meals
    • each meal $2.55
    • weekly maximum $53.55
  • Rooms and meals (weekly)
    • with private room $85.25
    • with non-private $69.40
    • non-private (domestic workers only) $53.55
  • Harvest workers (only) weekly housing
    • serviced housing $99.35
    • unserviced housing $73.30

If an employee is paid more than the minimum wage, the amount that room and board can be deemed as wages paid to an employee can also increase. However, an employer must have written authorization from the employee if a higher amount is to be deemed paid as wages. In this case, the wages--after wages have been deemed paid for the provision of room and board but before any deductions are made--must be equal to or greater than the minimum wage less the maximum amounts set out that can be deemed as wages for room and board.

Employees Sent Home After Working Less Than Three Hours: The Three-Hour Rule

When an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to report to work but works less than three hours, he or she must be paid whichever of the following amounts is the highest:

  • three hours at the minimum wage, 
  • the employee's regular wage for the time worked.

For example, if an employee who is a liquor server is paid $10.00 an hour and works only two hours, he or she is entitled to three hours at minimum wage (e.g., $8.90, the liquor servers minimum wage as of March 31, 2010 x 3 = $26.70) instead of two hours at his or her regular wage ($10.00 x 2 = $20.00).

The rule does not apply to:

  • students (including students over 18 years of age)
  • employees whose regular shift is three hours or less
  • where the cause of the employee not being able to work at least three hours was beyond the employer's control.

When the Minimum Wage Changes

If the minimum wage rate changes during a pay period, the pay period will be treated as if it were two separate pay periods and the employee will be entitled to at least the minimum wage that applies in each of those periods.



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